A large portion of New Mexicans could benefit from a federal subsidy to get essentially free home or mobile Internet access through Comcast’s Xfinity Internet service.
The federal Affordable Connectivity Program is offering up to $30 a month to low-income customers, which would cover the full cost of Xfinity Essential and Essential Plus service, Comcast spokeswoman Julianne Phares said.
Essential services cost $9.95 and offer a download speed of 50 megabits per second, and Essential Plus costs $29.95 and offers 100 Mbps.
“Households can choose any Internet service offered by Comcast,” Phares said.
Customers would pay the balance if the internet package exceeded the $30 federal rebate.
The Affordable Connectivity Program provides up to $75 per month for Internet service on tribal lands.
A large percentage of New Mexico households qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Households must meet only one of the following criteria: qualify for the Federal Lifeline program (such as Medicaid, SNAP, Federal Public Housing Assistance); participate in the free and reduced-price school meals programme; received a Federal Pell Grant in the current year; or have a family income of 200 percent of the federal poverty rate.
A one-person household is expected to earn less than $25,766 per year, two-person less than $34,840, three-
person $43,920, four people $53,000, Phares said.
“It’s fair to say [eligibility] is prevalent,” Phares said.
Comcast has enrolled 101,326 New Mexico households in the Affordable Connectivity Program as of March 7, she said, adding that the program began on December 31.
CenturyLink also offers Affordable Connectivity Program rebates to qualified CenturyLink Internet and Quantum Fiber Broadband customers.
In other internet news, the Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday gave Lubbock, Texas, internet service provider Vexus Fiber permission to install 10-gigabit fiber-optic internet service in the city. Vexus CEO Jim Gleason said The New Mexican it hopes to have live service in early neighborhoods by summer and have service in place throughout Santa Fe by 2024-25.